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Four Loko to revamp lableling to meet FTC norms

DBR Staff Writer Published 04 October 2011

Phusion Projects, the marketer of Four Loco alcoholic malt beverages, has agreed to re-label and repackage the fruit-flavored carbonated malt beverage to resolve Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges of deceptive advertising.

The FTC has alleged that Phusion Projects and its principals have falsely claimed a 23.5-ounce, 11% or 12% alcohol by volume pack of Four Loko contains alcohol equivalent to one or two regular 12-ounce beers, and the company has also claimed that its a consumer can drink safely in its entirety on a single occasion.

According to the FTC, one can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four to five 12-ounce cans of regular beer and is not safe to drink on a single occasion.

Consuming a single can of Four Loko on a single occasion constitutes 'binge drinking,' which is defined by health officials as men drinking five (and women drinking four) or more standard alcoholic drinks in about two hours.

FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director David Vladeck said deception about alcohol content is dangerous to consumers, and it's a serious concern for the FTC.

"Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four or five beers, but it is marketed as a single-serving beverage," said Vladeck.

The administrative settlement requires Phusion Projects to include disclosures on containers of Four Loko, or any other flavored malt beverage containing more alcohol than two and-a-half regular beers is in the drink.

The order also specifies the location and appearance of the disclosure.

Starting six months after the settlement takes effect, Phusion Projects is required to use only resealable containers for flavored malt beverages that have more alcohol than the equivalent of two and a half regular beers.

The settlement also bars Phusion Projects from misrepresenting the alcohol content of any beverage, and from depicting people drinking directly from the container of any product containing more alcohol than that found in two and a half regular beers.

In November 2010, the FTC has sent warning letters to marketers of Four Loko and three other caffeinated alcohol drinks. Phusion Projects and the other companies have subsequently agreed to remove the caffeine and other stimulants from the products.

The administrative complaint against Phusion Projects also names principals Jason Freeman, Christopher Hunter, and Jeffrey Wright as respondents.